Friday, October 23, 2009

Ingrid's Soup Kitchen

What started as a carefree day of spontaneity and leisure quickly became an intense food project. I decided to follow Ingrid back to Santa Cruz after hanging out in San Jose for the evening. Ingrid Moody is a wonderful poet and friend of mine since we met at camp when we were teenagers. Being with her is a combination of revisiting childhood and thinking ahead of a future in writing.

Ingrid and her husband are part of a community garden share and had been falling behind on their produce. It’s easy to want to race against time when it comes to perishables- when they’re ready to go they won’t wait for us. Nothing is sadder to me than wasting food, so I was happy to step in.

We made plans to do a major soup and freezing operation that evening. But first, we needed to refuel, and second, we needed to enjoy the glorious afternoon in Santa Cruz. We biked over to Walnut Avenue Café, where I had an amazing ­­­­­­­Old Special #1 and 4 cups of coffee.

Ingrid remembered her cousin’s baby will be two next week, so we went to Bookshop Santa Cruz for a gift. It’s been a long time since I had the chance to linger in a bookstore, and it was a good one for that. A great selection of used books, a big children’s section and super knowledgeable staff made the afternoon fly by much faster than I wanted. I could have spent days in there had I been allowed a sleeping bag.

When we got back, I was ready to devote myself to the veggies in need. Thank goodness Ingrid’s new place has a huge counter space and plenty of equipment. We started cranking out vegetables like a soup kitchen. I usually do all my chopping and mise en place at once, so I will work on several projects simultaneously. “It’s going to get a little crazy in here,” I warned Ingrid, but she shrugged, giving me allowance to do whatever I needed to do.

A couple bags of cheerful red peppers could mean only roasted red pepper soup- one of my favorite things in the world when coupled with chevre. Some butternut squash roasting in the oven kept them company for a second soup.

Ingrid and Jon had accumulated tons of potatoes, which have a long shelf life, but still needed attention. I made some mashed and experimented with freezing them. I’ve heard negative things about it, but read that they can be quite good when reheated with egg or dairy mixed in. Jon and Ingrid both work long hours at the university, so anything I could prepare for them ahead of time was important to meet their full schedule.

One of Ingrid’s favorite things is her grandmother’s ratatouille, which I was delighted to try to make for the first time. (It’s incredible how many amazing dishes out there I still have yet to make.) I warned it was going to be our adaptation of it and wouldn’t be an exact replica, but we both jumped into it feet first.

Next was collard greens sautéed down with garlic and vegetable broth. I like adding bacon or lardon to it, but tonight we were trying to stick with just veggies. Okay. Just for tonight.

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